In the comments section of The Scouting Report Top 100 article, frequent visitor godot10 said of the Oilers first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft: "Take Larsson and use the 31th (or Cogliano) and the 19th to move up to take one of Zibanejad, McNeill, or Scheifele." I've got the same mindset as godot when it comes to the first overall pick and have written about nabbing Mika Zibanejad as well. If they Oilers can't move up high enough to select Zibanejad, Mark McNeill and Mark Scheifele are fine consolation prizes.
Taking a line like this gives the Oilers the franchise defenseman they need and brings another large, skilled forward, and in the case of Zibanejad or Scheifele a large skilled center, into the fold. If they can move up high enough to draft them without surrendering the 31st pick, they may be able to add yet another skilled, if slightly flawed, forward to the system. Add in two third round selections, and maneuvering like this would pay off in a big way for the Oilers. But to make a move like this, Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe would have to have a partner willing to deal.
Taking Larsson and moving up to get one of the three aforementioned forwards goes against conventional wisdom. Everyone from Bob McKenzie to Jim Matheson believes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to be the Oilers' target with their #1 pick. Tambellini and Lowe could still move up in the draft, but if they aren't able to find another general manager willing to move, #1, #19, and #31 can still make an impact.
After the jump, I'll look at a few players who may be on the board should the Oilers choose to stand pat at #19 and #31.
Kirk Luedeke has American-born forward Brandon Saad ranked 20th overall, and Saad fits the Oilers organizational needs like a glove. From Luedeke's' profile:
Long, fluid stride. Powerful skater who isn't all that agile, but gets a big head of steam up to get himself into scoring position and convert breakaways. Can really handle the puck and has a hard, heavy shot that he can really rip- an NHL caliber release on it already. Pinpoint shooter who can pick the corners. Creates time and space for himself- creative scorer and playmaker. Physically developing ahead of the power curve- already pushing 210 pounds and strong along the walls and in front of the net. Hard stick; uses his frame effectively to protect the puck and maintain possession on the cycle. Has scorer's mindset and the natural feel for the game to get it done offensively when playing with confidence and on top of his game. Solid two-way player who understands his defensive responsibilities and will get even better as he matures.
The Scouting Report has Scott Mayfield ranked 28th, in the range of the Oilers third pick, #31 overall. TSR writer Rich Michalowski wrote about his defensive skills in his scouting report:
What everyone does agree on is that Mayfield owns the skills to be a first pair defenseman in the NHL. Also, he uses his 6’4" 200lb frame to play with a nasty edge. He skates well with a powerful stride that allows him to take ice quickly and move well laterally, Mayfield’s 1 on 1 skills were without par at the USHL level including the USNTDP squads. His long reach, good footwork and text book technique made him very difficult to beat.
I actually got a chance to see Mayfield play this season. I walked into the arena not realizing the Youngstown Phantoms had a potential first-round pick on their roster, but after only a few shifts, I realized Mayfield was an amazing talent. He's a huge kid already, but he looks like he has the frame to easily carry 30 more pounds. As Michalowski notes, his skating is an asset. He's also very strong - twice I watched him pull off the very Prongerian one-handed check where he simply maintained his position, reached up with his right hand and threw the puck carrier backwards to the ice. But my favorite thing about the young defender is that he has already learned to conserve his motion and energy like an NHL veteran defenseman. He's going to be an absolute horse in the NCAA.
Michalowski compares Mayfield's game to that of Chris Pronger and while there is a significant talent gap between the two, Mayfield reminded me of Pronger as well. Mayfield is ranked 24th by Central Scouting, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him move up the rankings with an impressive NHL Combine this weekend. Drafting him at #19 might be a distinct possibility.
The Scouting Report's 29th-ranked player is Alexander Khokhlachev, the Russian forward who combined with Tom Kuhnhackl to give the Windsor Spitfires a high-scoring line with a heavy European influence. TSR's Andrew Weiss writes:
The first thing that jumps out about Khokhlachev’s game is his heart. With a grinder-like style, Khokhlachev hustles on both the forecheck and backcheck. Watch Khokhlachev closer and one will see that he has a terrific hockey sense. Khokhlachev has no problem driving to the net without the puck and banging home a rebound or setting up backdoor for a pass. This style worked great for the center that saw a lot of playing time with wingers Tom Kuhnhackl (Pittsburgh) and Jake Carrick. Khokhlachev also displays a great release that makes him not only a scoring threat just outside of the crease but inside of the zone as well.
Khokhlachev was an even strength scoring machine early in the season, but he tailed off in February and March. He still finished with .75 even strength points per game, outscoring both Mark Scheifele and Mark McNeill. Khokhlachev is slightly undersized for a first round pick and for an Oilers' pick, but as Weiss notes, the young Russian is a grinder with a two-way game.